Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's An Earthquake!

GOD be Praised!!!!!! I just discovered that earthquakes are scarier than forest fires! I'm okay but a bit shaken (lol). I have never seen a building shake this way and it was only a 5.8 on Richter scale. I was listening to gospel music and praying by my front door when it happened... how appropriate because all I could say when it happened was:

First Shake:"Who's jumping upstairs...?"
Second Shake:"Sweet Jesus? Is it....!?" I stand in the doorway just in case (safer? I don't know).
Third Shake and roll:"Sweet Jesus! --This is an earthquake!!!!"
Fourth Shake and sustained roll!!!... loud rumble. The building sways noticeably 2-3 inches to the left and right. I get a surreal feeling...

I scream in my mind, "SWEET JESUS!!!!! HELP ME!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then I grabbed my passport, purse and keys and grabbed a t-shirt (I've kept all these by my exit since the forest fires) and ran out! I'm on the first floor with 3 stories above me and a 2 level of parking garages below. The building is built on different levels so I am on the ground level on the back of the building. I thought of climbing over my back porch but it was too high so I had to run through a long corridor to an open patio where a few people were gathered. The patio is out in the open but it is still 2 stories up in the front of the building and I wanted out! I walk down the stairs and exit to the outside.

A few people (newly relocated from the east coast and foreigners) were outside waiting to see if there would be any after-shocks. Apparently there has been 27 aftershocks but, thankfully, I didn't feel any. I stayed outside for a while praying just to be sure. I didn't go in until everyone else went back in... including a 3-4 month old baby. I felt like a foolish, faith-less scared cat. The native Californians didn't even evacuate! They said "this is nothing ...wait until you feel the big one like in the 1980's". They were a bit smug but I claimed, in "the Name of Jesus", not to have that experience! I am looking up earthquake safety online... the web site said "BE PREPARED!"

I remember when I last felt scared like this and I immediately want to write my thoughts down. This earthquake experience was no where as bad as Hurricane Maryland which I experienced when I lived in the Caribbean in 1995. The earthquake lasted for 7-10 seconds and Hurricane Maryland lasted for nearly 12 hours. I was living in a condo, which sat on one of the highest hills on the island. My mother begged us to stop for provisions on the way to the condo or to drop her at her place which was safer but we ignored her requests. Soon the rain started... a drizzle then a steady pelt then a deluge.... More rain... Then the wind started howling and whipping... it wouldn't stop! All power went and we sat in the dark because I didn't stop to get batteries.

My brother called and worried about us. "Are you guys safe up there?" ME-"Of course"THE TRUTH-we had no batteries, no matches no water, limited food... I was cocky and unprepared. We manage to sleep a bit then I wake up suddenly. I hear an ominous sound like a freight train rushing at us. We can hear heavy objects being thrown about by the winds... roofs being lifted and carried and crash landing hundreds of feet away. Rain falls like no end and the winds blow even faster. Eventually the glass doors shatter sending shards of glass slicing towards us. I yell for my mom, "Run!" and we take shelter in the bedroom.

We are open to all the elements now. It's cold. We're now ankle deep in water... now it's nearly mid-shin. We struggle to hold the door closed and brace ourselves against the howling attack of the storm. My life literally flashes before my eyes... this can't be happening. I start to cry and my mom has to reassure me. I'm worried about my sister who is riding the storm out in a guest house on stilts that sits on a cliff. I hear her voice all night long... calling out to us. When the storm ends I am totally exhausted but I don't stop praying until my sister finally comes and calls out to us in the same windswept voice I was hearing in my head all night. I was so relieved!

Believe me, I learned my lesson from this and I am always prepared now. Please join me in praying that no natural or man made disaster or anything injurious of any kind can harm us. And of course, we pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Doctor's

March 2008

Last week, after a grueling day in physical therapy, I was strolling down Beverly Blvd. (near Melrose) just window shopping. I passed many quaint boutiques, galleries and restaurants, many of which are the best that Los Angeles has to offer. I was in my element, that is, until I noticed the dismissive response from some snobby staff and patrons. I dismissed them in turn as I was convinced that I know more about art, cuisines and fashion than they ever would but I really don't know what set them off. It could be that I wasn't wearing any Fendi or that my toe nails were not painted the "in color" for this season.

Why is beside the point anyhow, as I've found most people in L.A. are just "fronting". They act like they are someone famous or should be, meanwhile they are just their non-famous selves. They think that if they serve enough celebrity clients their client's celebrity will rub off on them... or at least some of the money. I admit that I was a little hurt so I just prayed about it and I continued on my way. As I took a few steps, a car passes and I get a glimpse of Julia Roberts in the passenger seat... I do a small but polite double take.

It is Julia Roberts! She is looking a bit drab and mousy, minus her mega-watt smile. Her hair wasn't highlighted and she was in a plain brown top that was the same color as her hair. Still, remarkably, she looked very happy and content and had just a slight DaVinci's "Mona Lisa" smile on her face. The driver (her husband?) was making pleasant small talk as they drove along. Then it hit me! That's the secret to making it here and remaining sane and down to earth. Be comfortable in the skin you're in and be happy when or where you are. Even if you're a nobody with no money or even if you're (like Julia Roberts) in a non-descript sedan, stuck in traffic, going to, maybe, a doctor's visit. Why waste time trying to impress anyone or being mean to anyone. I immediately got it and I thank God for the Julia-inspired revelation. I quickly leave the swanky row of shops and walked about 1 block more to a bargain shoe store and a $5 Chinese food place. Now that's my style!

As further proof, my sister e-mailed me some photos of Stars if they lived elsewhere in the U.S. Check it out it's real funny!

I laughed because the photos are so true of the bodies, fashions and experiences that these stars would have, if they were not living in Hollywood. There is great pressure here for stars to confirm to "type" and get extensive plastic surgery, hair extensions and to be incredibly thin.

More adventures from Hollywood coming soon. God Bless!

March 2009

I was walking the last few blocks to physical therapy a few weeks ago (exactly one year after the above post) and as I was crossing a side street, a large black Audi SUV pulled up to make a turn. The driver was a dark haired lady in her late 20's to early 30's and wearing a stylish black baseball cap. I thought the driver looked a bit familiar but I shrugged it off and continued on my way. My calf muscles were spasming though and I motioned at her to give me a bit more time to cross. She obliged with a polite nod and I limped across to the other side and stepped up to the relative safety of the sidewalk.

I wave a thanks to the driver and walked on for a bit but I felt someone watching me. I looked back to find that the car was still stopped at the intersection though traffic was clear and I noticed that the driver was still starring at me almost like if she felt that I looked familiar to her (or she was mesmerized by my "spasm" walk). Suddenly, I recognized her... it was Kathie Holmes. She stayed starring at me from the intersection for a few moments longer and I almost want to wave to her but I wanted to respect her privacy. She eventually drives on and, as I am late for my appointment, I just prayed for her and continued on also.

I pondered why I didn't recognize her sooner but I realize it's because she looks a bit different from her "pre-marital" days. Still, she did have very kind eyes and I could have sworn she was wearing a small cross on a necklace around her neck. I really pray that this means that she knows the Lord.

Comic Con 2008

Comic Con 2009 wrapped up this past weekend and the panels seem to be great.
Here are my recollections of Comic Con 2008, which I attended last July.

July 24th 2008
I attended the Great American PitchFest in June 2008 and everyone was talking about it being a comic super-hero year for film alla the success of The Dark Knight and Iron Man, just to name a few. So many of the aspiring writers at PitchFest were planning to attend the Comic Con in San Diego to see what the next industry trends were. Comic Con, as the name implies, is a convention for all things comics including comic books, anime, graphic novels, video games and action figures so normally geeks or rabid fanboys were the majority in attendance. However, this has changed and Hollywood has taken over, thanks to the mass appeal of comic book inspired movies.

Since San Diego is close by, I decided to attend this years convention, with my geek repellent handy of course. I had never been to San Diego either and felt that this was as good a time as any to explore more of California... to see the coast... to see the Pacific Ocean for the first time... all before my first year in L.A. was up.

Wednesday: I decided to go by train and knowing how comic fans are I got to the train station early. Good thing too, as there were already tons of people in line, (mostly guys aged 19-29 but girls were well represented too) and from their t-shirts and conversations they were mostly headed to Comic Con. It was a festive gathering as comic fans munched on snacks and talked about the buzz around the event, as we soaked up our environment. L.A's Union Station train station is a beautiful station done in an art deco mixed with a Spanish style with tiles and lots of Gothic brown wooden furniture. It is a must see if you take a trip out here but as it has practically no A/C make your tour quick.

I got in line and started praying for the line to move quickly... it didn't. After, an hour people were sitting on the floor. After nearly an hour and a half in line and no movement, people started to protest (who knew geeks and nerds had it in 'em?) and an Amtrak official finally came to speak to us. It seems that my adventure started badly as some unfortunate person had thrown themselves under on of the earlier trains. This was the cause of the hours of delay and the ridiculous lines which we had complained about. Why Amtrak didn't tell us the cause of the delay sooner is a mystery to me but we all felt guilty for grousing at someones death delaying us. Still, you can imagine the mad rush, when they finally allowed us to board... like the last loaf of bread during a famine. I wisely stayed out of their way but still got one of the last seats.

Thankfully, the rest of the trip went well. From my window seat, I saw all the towns between the two cities, the baseball park in Anahiem and finally... the mighty Pacific Ocean! The Pacific looked very rough compared to the Atlantic Ocean but quite a few teens and kids were surfing happily. We reached San Diego's train station and debarked. I followed the crowd to the station depot which was across the train platform and over some train tracks. Suddenly and without warning, a train was barrelling towards me. I jumped back and a porter pulled me and showed me the red warning lights, which were not clearly visible. Mindful of the tragedy earlier, I told him that they need better warnings of on-coming trains like big flashing lights and a blearing horn or at least a gated arm that lowers as the train approaches (this suggestion would come back and bite me).

I did a quick visual tour of San Diego's sea line (tall buildings, palm trees and boat tour kiosks)and it's train station (wonderful art deco in bright blue and teal tiles and murals) then I caught a cab. I arrived at the Balboa Inn, a quaint little "bed and breakfast" with painted flower motifs, a lobby full of small figurines and the largest jacuzzi tub ever. I ate some take-out for dinner, soaked in the tub then slept like a baby in the canopied four poster bed. What a lovely place!

Thursday AM: I got up bright and early... no time to site see today. I caught a cab to the Convention center Harbour Drive b/c the Fox panel started at 8:00 am. Again, the lines were ridiculous because of some book for tweens and teen girls which was being made into a movie called Twilight (I later learned to respect the mass of these fans ). I had to pick up my registration badge, which was a pain in the butt. They had us walking blocks to the registration area and even though they had a disability quick check it amounted to no difference in time spent standing or walking.

I finally made it to Hall H only to find out that my registration badge was wrong (typical) so they wanted to send me back to a long line that wrapped around the mile long center full of those 'tween and teen girls in vampire-goth drag who had been there for more than a day. So I had a small well deserved fit and made the supervisors come to mediate. They amended and let me in with the wrong badge but with just a disability stamp added. Lucky too, because Hall H was filling rapidly because it was where all the big star-driven panel events were happening.

Comic Con organizers should be commended though as, once inside, there were lots of accommodations for all kinds of disabilities including sign-language translators for the hearing impaired, visual assistance and front row seating for the visually impaired, as well as accessibility for wheel chair and guide dogs. Unfortunately, many none disabled people were taking the seats and the event security staff had to buckle down. I myself was carded many times after I took a seat in the middle sections but I didn't mind at all.

Over a thousand people are sitting in the room, anxious to see the various panels of Hollywood stars, writers, director and producers. As we wait, the buzz increases to a crescendo and the Twilight girls (and Twilight women) are everywhere! Scheduled to appear on the Hall H panels today are Hugh Jackman, Gerard Butler, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Keanu Reeves, Mark Wahlberg aka Marky Mark, Edris Elba, Korean pop sensation Rain and all I am thinking is "beef-cake, beef-cake, beef-cake"(lol). There was even more buzzing energy and loud chatter which was very contagous and I admit that I got pulled into it.

The first panel is for the sci-fi re-make The Day The Earth Stood Still and they hand out black t-shirts with the slogan, "Klaatu barada nikto." in grey across the front as we enter. As I liked the original, I was eager to hear this panel. When better seats opened up closer to the front, I moved up... next to rabid fans with posters of various stars and various people saying things like "If I see him I will just die...". It wasn't just girls, it was adult women. It just wasn't females, it was guys too ("bro-mance"). It wasn't just Americans, it was Canadians, Brits, Scandinavian, Korean and Japanese fans.

We waited a while more and we trade holding seats for each other as we go to and fro' the ladies room. I put on the Klaatu t-shirt as it is absolutely freezing cold in Hall H. I was was second in line to ask a question for the panel about Christianity in movies when suddenly the large 25 feet high black curtains, which surrounded the large hall begin to fall! One by one like falling dominoes, the metal supports collapsed in a circle around the hall. The staff tried to stop it from collapsing but only stopped it mid-way so some people got hit in the head or trapped under the heavy draping. Some of the Twilighters screamed in hysteria and a little panic rippled across the hall. The hysteria subsided a bit but there was a delay of 30 minuets to right everything back up (they used a small crane) and then the panel started.

Suddenly, the entire hall goes black and some people gasp especially so soon after the curtain collapse. There is nothing to fear though... A loud screech of TV static blears through the hall's surround sound speakers and then the large viewing screens light up... we see some scenes...
-Scientists dressed in decon suits aboard a military helicopter... they talk in hushed worried tones... they are taken to a secret military base in New York...
-A man in blue scrubs (Keanu Reeves) is hooked up to a lie-detector monitor and he is being interrogated by military police... the man overpowers them all with mind control and walks out with an eerie calmness...

Our attention moves to the hall's stage, where tables, chairs and placards are set up. The curtains moves aside and Keanu Reeves walks out. The crowd goes crazy as a wave of electricity moves through the audience... A guy yells, "I love you, man... you rock! Wow, Comic Con has officially started!

The highlights: Keanu Reeves knows how to open a show. Mila Kunis is "pinch her checks" cute, Mark Wahlberg has grit. Hugh Jackman nearly started a riot when he jumped into the audience during the Wolverine panel. A few women started grabbing on him but he was pumped to introduce us to the original writer or the X-men comics sitting in the crowd. From the Rock-a-Rolla panel: Gerard Butler is a shameless flirt (he threw chocolate kisses into the crowd, talked dirty= an "F" word a minute). Eddris Elba's British accent and his gentle manliness is contagious. Ludacris has a big fan base ("go Luda!") and I think Guy Richie made a joking reference to his impending split from Madonna. Joel Silver is a hoot. He did two panels and introduced his new company Dark Castle. From the Return To Witch Mountain panel: The Rock is more than just muscles and he showed his ability to handle awkward questions from devoted (read desperate or crazed) female fans.

We saw trailers from the new Tron movie with Jeff Bridges re-digitalized with CGI which was awesome then we watched an animated Hulk movie. There were 3 or 4 more panels left but I had had my fill. I walked through the convention floor and played video games and sang karaoke. Then I spotted Geoff Darrow of The Matrix fame (he drew the story boards for the movie) and I got him to sign a few of his comics that I bought. I walked through the convention center passed people in costumes and role-playing with painted faces. I exited the convention center with a group of hundreds of people looking for something to eat. As we walked across another set of train tracks, a gate starts to lower and bells ring. The people in front of us move back at the last minute as a train approaches and I narrowly escape being hit on the had by the gate arm.

The rickshaw like taxis charge too much, so I walk up to a nice area with shops and restaurants. I sight-see a bit then it is nearly 5 PM. I decide to have dinner there and then head back by cab to my hotel for another soak and a good night's sleep.

Friday: I check out of the inn and catch a cab to the harbour. I buy a ticket for a sight-seeing tour by boat and I get to see all the sites from the ocean. San Diego's skyline is beautiful and I even got to see some happy dolphins and seals. I think I like San Diego! I get back to the train station a few blocks away and cross the train tracks very carefully. I board the train and head back to L.A. What an experience!

God is great!!!!!!!

The Oscars

February 2008
I attend the week long activities at the building on Wilshire Blvd. including the nominated animated and live shorts and the make-up and costume symposium. I held a real Oscar (it's really heavy) and walked a fake red carpet complete with photographers and fans cheering and calling my name at the Kodak Theater. I even walked the real red carpet (well kinda).

Sunday I headed down to Hollywood Blvd. and it was a large crowd. Luckily b/c it was cold and drizzling the crowd thinned and I got right to the front. I saw Katherine Heigel in a red gown and George Clooney's head and Nicole Kidman when she pulled up last.

Movie Premieres

November 2007
I got to attend the Lions to Lambs premiere at the Arclight Theater on November 4th, 2007. The tickets were on sale for $75 and I felt it was worth it to see some screen legends. The movie stars Robert Redford, Merryl Streep, Tom Cruise and Derek Luke and flashbulbs flashed as they walked the red carpet. It was a very nice affair and every one was dressed to impress. It was very nice to be an insider and I had a very good seat. They introduced the stars before the film and they all came on stage. Meryl Streep has a lovely way about her, Robert Redford looks very stately and Tom Cruise was very energetic (jumped on stage)... he is a very petite man and I think this has affected him.

The after party is at Social on Sunset Blvd. I hang out with Derek Luke's mom and brother but I don't see any of the other stars from the movie. The food is exceptional and they have an intimate dance floor and played good club music.

April 2008
I want to attend The Street Kings movie premiere scheduled for Thursday April 3rd at Graumann's Chinese Theater but I want to attend for free. The movie stars Oscar Award winner Keanu Reeves, Oscar-winner Forrest Whitaker, Cedric the Entertainer, Hugh Laurie(from the TV show House), Chris Evans and the rapper, Common. The movie looks a bit violent but I think I'll still enjoy it. I cold call Fox Searchlight studios for free premiere tickets and they refer me to Power 106 FM radio station in Burbank. I dropped by the station and was able to get 2 tickets and boy was I happy. There is an after-party also but I don't have any info on how to get those tickets. They recommend that you come before 5:00 p.m. to see the stars arrive and to get seated early. I don't know what the crowd will be like so I decide to be there early.

I went to Hollywood Blvd early for the movie premiere but there are tons of people there and more arriving every hour. I had a chair to sit in but but my back was still hurting terribly. I got concerned that I wouldn't get into the theater but not only did I get to see the red carpet arrivals of top stars, I got into the theater, and got the best seat in the house. I was seated in the group with the studio people behind Keanu Reeves. Even more amazing is that before the movie started he kept walking around about two feet from me.

After the premiere, I was leaving and I was just happy that I believed God and that I had had another real Hollywood insider moment. Then I met 2 female tourist and they asked me about the premiere and I answered them quite happily. As I was leaving they handed me an entry pass to the movie's after-party. These after-party tickets were impossible to get and I nearly had a Hallelujah moment! They said that I was so nice to them and as they were not dressed for the premiere that they would rather that I took it. I accepted the ticket and left them thinking "Lord, your angels are so-o-o nice!"

I walked the few blocks to the party which was at Elements night club in the "happening" part of L.A.'s club scene. I changed into my cute shoes and stepped out with confidence. As I walked up to the entrance, many people were outside being prevented from entering by the bouncers and to the surprise of many, with my pass, I walked right in. Inside was filled with many industry people munching on h'dourves. Unfortunately some of the young women there wore practically no clothing on were plastic looking. It was apparent that these women wanted to be "discovered" or to get with someone rich and famous from the movie industry... the poor dears.

The food was a bit pretentious but the music was good so I just walked around for a while enjoying being out on the town for the first time in months. I met Chris Evans and complimented him on his acting in the movie. He was so nice and down-to-earth and thanked me for my compliment. I went to the outside patio for fresh air but it was filled with tobacco smoke. After I caught my breath, I turned around and went back inside fearful that my asthma might kick up. I waited half an hour until the smoke cleared and went back to the patio. I had my inhaler but I resisted pulling it out of my bag. Miraculously, all the smoke had cleared and I was able to breathe easily.

The other actors were on the patio including .... Harris (from Pirates of the Caribbean). She is very thin and I didn't see her eat a thing the whole time. I walked around some more and just observed everything including the large crowd that swarmed around Mr. Reeves. During my wait in the line earlier, I had handed out my extra premiere tickets to a few people. One women, who claimed to be his biggest fan, was so happy to get a ticket that she hyper-ventilated and acted near hysterical. I immediately regretted giving her a ticket and I made her promise not get within 20 feet of the star. Now people were literally posturing themselves to be next to him, to take a picture, to touch him or talk to him. Don't worry though... he had two big body guards around him all night. He was very nice to these fans but he looked a bit uncomfortable with all the attention. Mostly he talked to friends and studio people.

I get ready to leave but a group of crazy paparazzi and autograph seekers are at the front. I have to push my way through them and I wait on the corner for my cab. Large black stretch limos pull up and catering trucks block my view and I don't see my cab when it comes. I had to call a cab two more times and wait outside for nearly another hour with the crazy paparazzi. The stars pull a fast one and send a decoy limo out front while they exit out a back entrance. I finally get in my cab and head to my sane, quiet and happy home. I'm very thankful that I experienced the premiere but I'm very glad that I'm not a star or a famous person.

Summer 2008

June 2008
I attended the Speed Racer premiere at the Nokia Theater in June. I didn't have a ticket but I went any way and asked people for extras. There were a lots of children there from schools and summer programs and I was able to get an extra ticket. While I was waiting to get in Joel Silver (producer for The Matrix) walks right up... seems I'm standing next to his former nanny's husband.

I get in and they are handing out every tooth-rotting treat possible. My seat is up on the top balcony level and my back hurts just thinking how I will get up there. I ask for them to change my seat and they put me in the lowest level to the left of the stage. The movie starts and the kids really enjoy it but I didn't enjoy it as much. The movie ends and the theater quickly empties out except for me and a small crowd to my right. I need a moment for sensation to return to my leg then they usher me out with the crowd. I realize the crowd is full of production people who worked on the movie. As we get out near the elevators, I realize the crowd includes the movie's directors, Andy and Larry Wachoski, famed writers/directors of The Matrix. Soon I am caught up in the crush of the crowd and pinned up next to Andy Wachoski's large frame (he must easily be 6'4" and 250 lbs.). I am unable to move but I am extremely happy as The Matrix is my all time favorite movie and I think these guys are geniuses

July 2008
I was curb-side for the Iron Man premiere and saw very one from Jack Black, Ben Stiller (co-stars Tropic Thunder), Vince Vaughn (6'6" pal of Jon Favreau), John Voight and Stan Lee (of Marvel Comics fame) as well as the stars from the movie: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Gwenth Paltrow and the director, Jon Favreau (he's lost a lot of weight). They had 12 Audi sports car driving in laps around the block each with "iron man" license plates and the crowd was pumped. I can not wait to see this movie!

The Biz and the Emmy Red Carpet

SEPT 2007
Now that I've adjusted to L.A. it's time to get down to the business of writing. I joined 2 writer's groups from and meet more writers on-line. I hear about seats available for the Emmy's and I
e-mail them asking for a seat. They have seats for both the Creative Emmy's as a seat-filler and red carpet and I got the last spots.

I attend the director's screening of 3:10 to Yuma at the Arclight Theaters. This was a great event as we were able to ask the director questions and speak with him one on one. Many film school students were in attendance as well as industry insiders.

I went to Hollywood Blvd. to see filming of the movie Hancock. They had a prop in the of the street that made the street look like if all the asphalt was broken up leaving a big hole. The FX guys rigged a car with skates and wire and made it spin out of control as they turned on giant sized fans to re-create a whirlwind effects. The movie extras including some Hooter girls ran screaming for several takes. I found a spot on top of the Kodak Theater as Will Smith came on set and replaced his stand in/stunt double. He was very good with the crowd and waved back and smiled for pictures. They asked for silence on the set and Will shot a few scenes then returned to his trailer. Charlize Theron was on set earlier but now only her stunt double is around. I'm not sure if I will go see this movie but it was nice to see it being made.


It has been six years since the September 11 terrorist attacks and the pain is finally decreasing. However, the L.A. news programs barely acknowledges it compared to the coverage in the east coast especially New York, New Jersey and the D.C. metro area. L.A. has the worst news anyway and the worst newscasters. It's all botox, faked breasts and tight low cut clothing and they constantly flub when they read the news. Plus, all they report about is entertainment news anyhow.

I got my ticket packet for the Emmy's but had to pull out from seat-filler because they require you to get up constantly which is not good with my physical problems.

Thurs 9/13
It's my first b-day in L.A.! I celebrate with banana creme filled ding-dongs and a walk to the park.

SAT 9/15
UCLA extension Writer's workshop

SUN 9/23 Emmy Red Carpet

I caught the bus to Emmy's at the Shrine Auditorium near USC. The downtown traffic is bad and diverted due to a movie filming on Grand Avenue. I switch to my connecting bus and it drops me on the USC campus. USC's campus is not as nice as UCLA's as it is a city campus but it was interesting to see. I finally reach to the assigned meeting spot near the USC Film School and I have to wait in a long line to be cleared to enter the venue. The sun is hot and we seek cover under the trees.

Many of the people attending won tickets in contests around the country and I learn that I was the only person who got tickets by e-mailing and just asing for them. In fact, they told me that if I had come just a few minutes later I would have missed the deadline for the advance security clearance which takes over 2 weeks. The on-site security check is finally completed and we get our entrance arm bracelets. We walk a block to the actual auditorium and walk to the bleachers. The crowd starts to buzz, as we see the red carpet and all the set up for the stars. They hand us gift bags filled with snacks, magazines, paper fans and t-shirts. They also hand out ice cream snickers and bottles of water.

The bleachers were high up and the stairs were challenging. There is also only port-a-johns available for us to use. I sat behind two ladies who are stationed with the military in Hawaii. One of them is from my sister island and both were very nice. They didn't even mind my ear-piercing scream especially as my screams caused all the stars to look our way, wave or to come over to us.

The Run down:
Who I saw:
The Grey's Anatomy crew

Who looked marvelous:
Staci London -What Not To Wear, America Ferrara -Ugly Betty, Eva Longoria Desperate Housewives and Chandra Wilson and Sara Ramirez -Grey's.

Who I wished I didn't see:
The Ellens. Pompeo looked extremely thin and I'm really not a fan of Degeneres.

Who I wished was there:
Isaiah Washington. Agree or disagree with him, he is a handsome and talented actor and he looks good in a tux.

All the stars walk the red carpet and get seated inside and then we are allowed to exit. The military ladies and myself were the last to leave and they allowed us to walk the red carpet and to take pictures on it just like the stars. God's favor is amazing!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bus Stop

AUG 2007

I spent most of August adjusting to life in L.A. especially the bus service. I love exploring and discovered new places like Glendale, a sleepy looking city just blocks away. Burbank and Sherman Oaks are nice also but a bit further away. The buses are no where as reliable as in the D.C. metro area and they are often packed to the brim. Many time there is no a/c in the buses and since most riders speak foreign languages, it is easy to feel you are in a third world country. I had bought a copy of Speed DVD for $4 at CVS on a whim a few days earlier mostly to see the scenes of L.A on film. Now, I watch this movie as a sort of bus aversion therapy cause if I think taking the bus is bad now, what if there was "a bomb on the bus"!? It helps sometimes but I can't wait to get back to driving!!!!

Still, I've finally mastered the bus schedule of 7 bus routes :

the 180, 181 from Pasadena to Hollywood and Vine
the 780 from Culver City through Wilshire to Pasadena,
the 217 from Sunset and Vermont to Wilshire Blvd.
the 96 between downtown and Universal City/Sherman Oaks
the 92 between downtown and Downtown Glendale
the 201 through Silver Lake
plus the Dash shuttle buses

I've also mapped out a few necessary places: a Target in Glendale, grocery stores and a CVS pharmacy off Fletcher, more grocery stores off Western, a $1 store off Santa Monica and Vine, shoe stores, Radioshack and a U.S. Post Office off Vermont as well as Ross stores off Sunset or off Western.

Sightseeing By Bus:
Some of the bus routes have great sites along the way. For example, last week I saw all of Griffith Park, the Zoo, Toluca Lake on the 96 bus route. On the way back, we saw a coyote just jogging along over the hills. The next day, the news reports sightings of rattle snakes, bears and cougars... oh, my! I'm not in "Kansas" anymore.

Apartment Hunt

Day 3: Wed 8/1/07
As I really over did it yesterday, today I'm out for the count. I heat hot water for my hot water bottle and alternate it with ice packs and I stick to the bed for most of the morning. By afternoon I am finally able to get up and call a few apartment complexes and I make arrangements to visit a few of them the next day. One thing I know for sure is that any apartment that I get must have a jacuzzi for my back. I order pizza from the best pizza place ever and I call to tell the front desk that the TV in my room is not working.

Day 4: Thurs 8/2/07
I am feeling better today so I printed my list and go apartment hunting. I had e-mailed and called a few places that look promising and wanted to see them in person. I called a cab and told the driver that I have a lot to do today. He smiled(he probably saw $$$) and we sped off. The cabbie is a Russian and he tells me beautiful stories of the old country (I always wanted to say that)... before too long we're at the first stop.

The first apartment is off Sunset and I asked the driver to wait and keep the meter running as I won't be long. The meter already says $8... this will have to be quick. The apartment building looks nice from outside and it's close to a grocery store, which is a big plus. I buzz the apartment manager and she comes to let me in. I told her we have to make it quick and she agrees. The manager is Armenian or Ukrainian and she is very accommodating but seems way over worked. The quick tour: the lobby looks good if a bit small. The apartment is on the first floor(another must) and it is also a bit small but nice and the view is a courtyard and pool view which is good and relaxing. The pool is small though and only 1 jacuzzi.

We return to the lobby and I fill out my application but they don't take out of town checks. I get a money order from the grocery store across the street and hustle back. The manager tells me that all the paperwork is in and she'll call to let me know if I'm approved. As she walks me to the door, tenants come and go. They all seem so nice and normal, a few even wearing business suits. I breathe a sigh of relief until I pass some tenants who are dressed like porn stars. From the way the apartment manager blushed and gently steers me to the door, I believed my suspicions are correct. I'm not judging these ladies but it's pretty jarring to the senses to see anyone with that much make-up on and with hair bleached that severely (not to mention the 6 inch clear stripper heels, long acrylic nails and size triple D breast) all before noon. As I exit the building I reconsider the surroundings, as the area north to the Hollywood Hills was beautiful but that corner of Sunset looks like it can get a bit scuzzy. I hop quickly into the waiting cab... the meter is saying $15.

The second, a place in Los Feliz , a beautiful area and consistent with my dream. I hop out... the meter says $25. Again the quick tour: The manager, an Asian lady, took me around. The carpeting seemed damp in area and I can smell mold and the elevator looks iffy. The pool is small and again only 1 jacuzzi. I put in application as well... she will call me. Back to cab ... the meter says $30. I return to hotel and the total fare is $40.80 paid $45 including tip. The driver gives me his card and personal number so I can call him anytime (yeah, right). I really have to get a car or learn the bus system here... cabs are too expensive.

I rest for a bit then I head back out to do some grocery shopping at a market on the corner. It's dark when I return to the hotel and a black guy is at the check-in desk looking for a room to rent for the night. They tell him they are all booked and he grumbles a bit then leaves. Minutes later, a white couple enter and ask for a room and they are given the choice of 3 available rooms. Though I try to protest, the manager points to the sign mounted on the desk, a sign that I had noticed in other businesses this past week: We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone we choose. Are they for real? I am having serious doubts about if I made the right decision to relocate here. I convince myself that everything will be better when I get my own apartment. I climb the steps to my room and thankfully, the TV is working. I am bless to find over 7 different Christian stations on the cable with wonderful praise and worship. I am especially impressed by GodTV programming and pastor Arnold Murray's broadcast. Needless to say, I had a great evening of praise and worship and I slept like a baby.

Day 5: Fri 8/3/07
I haven't heard from any of the apartment people yet... I'll call them.

Day 6: Sat 8/4/07
Still no word from the apt places. I call and leave more messages on their voice mail but I'm getting concerned. I go to Hollywood and finally buy a new cell phone. I try to avoid all the dark or weird elements on the street including the scientology "recruiters. As the sun sets, I hear beautiful acapela harmonies of known gospel tunes. Wow... people are praising the Lord on Hollywood Blvd! I quickly follow the sounds and find a gospel group from a local church singing in front of the Kodak Theater. They are dressed conservatively with a turn of the century Amish edge. I listen for a while and clap and shout encouragement and Hallelujah! Soon they are finished and they pack up to go and give me an invite to their church.

It's dark now and I hurry back to the hotel but I pass a Church group from Florida with mostly black, Hispanic men who are recovered from drugs. They are praising the Lord mightily in song and they encourage all the passer-bys and drivers to honk and make a joyful noise. Soon the streets a alit with honking and singing. God be praised!What an amazing sight! Blow my mind, Lord... 2 in one day! I am introduced to the lady deacon from the church and I embrace her and encourage the men to continue. I wish I had traveled with some money to give them an offering but we prayed and encouraged each other. I skipped and sang the entire way back to the hotel.
God answers prayers and all is not lost in L.A. !

Day 7: Sun 8/5/07
I watch the Christian cable channels all day but it's not the same as fellowship with Christians in person. I not only need an apartment, I need a Church home but for now TV ministry will suffice. At 11 p.m. there is a loud altercation in the room next door to me (we share a common wall). Seems the guy wants the girl to do something for him that she seems unwilling to do. He yells "be nice to me!" and the noise and banging gets louder. I can't tell if she being physically abused or what. I haven't charged my cell so I grab the phone to dial 911 but can't seem to call out. The noise stops for a while then the fighting begins again. I leave my room quietly and run down to the lobby to ask them to call 911. The glass doors are closed but I can see the head of the desk attendant and I know that she can hear the commotion upstairs. I knock on the door but she ignores me. I walk outside hoping to get to a pay phone to call 911 or flag down a cop. I don't see either but I feel safer outside so I walk to the 24 hour CVS on the corner. They can't let me use their phone either so I stay there for an hour walking around the store and chatting up the staff. I finally return to hotel and all seems back to normal. As I walk by the desk attendant she smiles sheepishly... her doors are still locked. I'll have a word with her tomorrow.

Day 8 Mon 8/6/07
Still haven't heard from any of the apts yet and after last night, I need to get out of this crazy hotel. I called another apt and they say they have apts available... in Los Feliz..Yeah! I get in the cab with my Russian friend and we drive. I am struck by the beauty of this area again we pass the hills near Griffith Park and a beautiful fountain. We get there and the apt bld. looks good and it's in a good neighborhood. The apt looks nice too... it's on the first floor with no carpeting (no asthma and allergy triggers) and a patio. It also has a pool view and the complex has a large pool, Jacuzzis , a patio pool area with a BBQ grill and a gym. I love it... where do I sign? I can't move in till tomorrow so I head back to the hotel.... tomorrow's is another day.

Way past midnight, I hear arguing next door again. I quickly pray and grab the room phone and I try to dial 911 but again the same problem. I personally think the hotel has blocked all 911 calls. I grab my cell and dial 9-1- as I go to press the last 1 the noise stops and I hear someone slams the door and leave angrily. I look out of my door and a few other tenants are looking out also all with cell phones ready to call the police. The noise does not resume and the others go back to their rooms. I go down and see the front desk person who ignores me again. Tomorrow I move into my apartment and I am so-o-o out of here!

Day 9: Tue 8/9/07
I got up early determined to be out of this place. I complain to the front desk about all the noise and fighting... they said they have dealt with the problem. A guy and his production company are in the lobby also and he explains that the culprit is a young guy in his 20's who got an advance for a story that he wrote and spent all $50,000 in a few months on prostitutes, drugs and partying. Now he was out of cash and free loading off friends, not wanting to return to family in the midwest.

I can't be bothered with other peoples drama as I have to sign the paper work for my apartment. I make it back to the bank and then the apt complex and do all the final paper work and I'm in! They hand me the keys and I see I'm running late so I call the hotel and asked for a late check out. and I catch a cab.

I get back and drag my luggage downstairs so the driver can haul it to the waiting cab. While I was checking out a dark haired baby-faced guy about 5'6" walks by wearing a fedora. He winks at me flirtatiously and flashes a roll of bills and walks up to the front desk. The manager refuses to listen to him and shouts back "no, you will never stay here again after all you've done". I suddenly realize that he's the guy from next door. The guy looks a little embarassed then shrugs his shoulders and exits with a cocky strut... on his way out he blows me a kiss.

I print some bus schedules and maps then I hurriedly exit and hop into my cab and head back to my new apt. I move my luggage into the apt. and I do a victory dance. My own space! I make arrangements for phone, gas, electric services and I catch a cab to the nearest Target for an inflatable bed, dishes, furniture etc.. I got back at 10 pm. and missed the cut off time for pool/jacuzzi and my back is killing me. I eat doritos for dinner and sleep on the inflatable bed which is turned out to be quite comfortable and quick to set up.

Day 10: Wed 8/10/07
I woke up and headed straight for the jacuzzi and the pool. The Jacuzzis were locked but they unlocked then for me. I spend a leisurely day in the hot tubs and by the end of the day my back feels better.

Day 11: Thu 8/11/07

Off to Pier 1 for furniture... got a ridiculous sale on discontinued floor models with delivery in 5 days for only $75.

Day 12: Fri 8/12/07
I head out the backdoor to the pool and as I step out I feel something under my heel causing my my ankle to twist and my knee to buckle and throwing off the balance to my right (my weakest side). I look down... it's a HUMONGOUS ground lizard! I have had a fear of lizards since childhood but I had conquered this fear as an adult after being trapped in a small bathroom with a large leaping and hysterical lizard (which had me leap and get hysterical too-lol). Eventually, I had to calm down and realize the lizard was more afraid of me. This time I didn't freak out because God calmed me... I've been tested on this before. I jumped off the lizard and he runs into a hole in the wall that is directly outside of my bedroom wall(nice touch). I exhale and continue on my way slightly shaken but determine not to let the devil get to me. "Yeah, I think "that's where you belong... under my feet. Come back and you'll get more". I wash off my sandals (I will not throw them out) and got into the pool. This is the life!

Sat 8/13/07
I walk out the back door the same time of day along the same path to the pool in the same sandals! HALLELUYAH!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 2 - The Tour

Tue July 31st 2007

It's my first full day in L.A. and I have a full day planned. I woke up early and got showered and dressed and walked to Hollywood Blvd. I had signed up for a tour of Los Angeles when I book my flight weeks earlier and the tour was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. The tour included the downtown area, Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Hills and the famous Hollywood sign among other notable sites. There was a bit of confusion before boarding the buses because so many different tours were leaving the same area at the same time. I felt like I waited in line for what felt like forever then we boarded a bus which ended up being the wrong bus so I had to get off again.

I finally got on the right bus and it's filled with a lot of Scandinavian tourist who were all extremely happy to be in L.A. Other notable stand outs on the bus include a lady who looked exactly like Mary J. Blige and a Orthodox Jewish couple. Our tour guide was a woman from Canada who was quite entertaining (I learned later that L.A. is filled with many Canadians... and Russians... and Mexicans...). Apparently, she came to L.A. as an actor and so she knew a lot of locations where many of my favorite movies were shot. In fact, the last scene of the movie Speed were shot right were we boarded the bus.

Unfortunately, this is the week that both Paris Hilton and Linsdsey Lohan got into their troubles so our first stop was at Paris' house, of course (sarcasm). Why I was surprised at this is still beyond me. Apparently, Paris had already moved from the house but people actually got out and took pictures of her house and even took pictures of her trash cans... ridiculous! Finally, they get back into the bus and we are back on the tour. First, we go to the Hollywood Bowl where some of the staff do a double take at the Mary J. Blige look-alike. Next is Chinatown (not as nice as the one in D.C.) then downtown to the Disney Building (it's shiny), the LaBrea tar pits then we are off to Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. This part of the tour was a real treat and not because of the chance to shop in the expensive and opulent stores but because the stores have great a/c.

Eventually, I'm just too hot and I decide that I'm staying in the bus for the rest of the tour. I drink 2 bottles of water in an attempt to stay hydrated but the temperature is now nearly 100 degrees. It's true that L.A. is not humid like summers in D.C. but eventually it takes a toll. Next stop, the Lady of Angeles Church. This part of the tour takes us to a part of L.A. that's just like a small sleepy Mexican Indian village (which is what L.A. was). My bladder is killing me so I take care of that first then go and sit in the church to pray a bit. It's very peaceful there but I have to leave so I won't miss the bus. It's definitely over 100 degrees now and I'm sweating profusely. I remember what my medical training taught me... push fluids and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! I certainly don't want to fall out here in L.A. and I don't want to see the inside of an ER as a patient while I'm here. Glory to God!

We return to Hollywood Blvd. and I step into the Kodak Theater for a little break from the heat. As I walk back out, I step right onto a movie set as they are filming a new movie! The movie is called House Bunnies and the production guys said it is like Revenge of the Nerds but with girls. I hussle back to the tour bus where we switched buses and tour guides. Time for part 2! Our new guide is a man in his 30's who is real cool and full of more film trivia. He took us through the Hollywood Hills and to homes' of a few stars. Thank goodness we saw no one except the paparazzi staking out the Beckham's house. We drive further up the hills to the Hollywood sign where we can see the city spread out beneath us from all vantage points. We then go to Graystone castle where many scenes from X-Men were filmed. It's really a lovely place but it involved lots of walking. Half way through, I bow out and I just sit and wait until everyone returns. The group returns and the tour guide starts driving us back to Hollywood Blvd. He apologizes that the tour was shorter than expected and that we didn't see as much as usual but no one complains.

We get back and I'm so glad we returned early. What convinced me I could do a full tour just 1 day after flying cross country? I am bone tired, my back is killing me and my calves are beginning to spasm. I think, "boy, I could use a massage ". Then I see a massage place and I mouth the words "thank you, God". I walk over near a small pagoda and I knock on the door. Two Asian women in their 20's answer the door with a smile. I ask if I can have a massage and they quickly say that they don't think I want their kind of massage (wink, wink). I insisted," no, I can take a firm massage and I'm really in a lot of pain". I turn and show them the points on my neck and back that were killing me. "See, see ... that spot there... and there... and here". The women giggled and blush and I noticed that they're wearing short white smocks, 4 inch heels and not much else. I backed away from the door slowly... I finally understand. Only in L.A.

Update: 3/26/09
I still haven't found a real massage place here. Please, let me know if anyone knows of one in the L.A. area especially one that a Christian would feel comfortable with.

Keep praying guys!

My First Day in L.A.

Mon July 30th 2007


The plane lands in L.A. at approximately 1:00p.m. and I embark on my dream of seeing the film and television industry up close and personal. I'm finally in Los Angeles, California! I run down the escalator (actually, it was more like a limp and a shuffle), grab my luggage and emerge into the outside world and breathe L.A. air for the first time. Luckily L.A.'s air is not smoggy as I had heard and the day was bright and warm. Tall palm trees and sun as far as the eyes can see. Not bad... not bad at all. I can get used to this! I catch an airport shuttle and the shuttle driver, a Nigerian man, gives us an impromptu tour as he drops us at our designated stops.

Crenshaw, Downtown and West Hollywood neighborhoods flash by as well as Rodeo Drive, all glitzy high end shops lining every street. A half an hour later, the driver announces that we're now in the Los Feliz neighborhood. I snap to attention and strain to look out the window. Images of Spanish styled homes intermixed with Cape Cod homes with lush lawns and more tropical palms glide by us, as we speed along. Wow! God had revealed this neighborhood to me months earlier as the area I would live in when I moved to L.A. and I was happy that it was as beautiful as promised. I ask the driver to tell us more about Los Feliz but he laughs and says, "none of you can afford this area!" ... "it's for the rich and the Hollywood types". What he said was true, as I had heard that a certain star with a boat-load of kids owns a home in the area. However, God had shown me the exact apartment in the exact neighborhood I would be living in.

The driver chuckles a bit more then adds, "The movie stars live here... big shots". The other passengers squirm and shrink in their seats, embarrassed that the driver has pointed out the obvious. People who "have arrived", as they say in the industry, don't share shuttle vans with 10 other strangers. Still, I believe God and I smile as we drive pass Griffith Park heading west.

Soon, the driver announces "Next stop Hollywood Blvd". He drops a few people at the famed Roosevelt Hotel then he makes a turn and suddenly, we're there! We are on the star lined streets I've dreamed about my entire life. A large crowd is gathered in front of the legendary Graumann's Chinese Theater for what we're told is the Rush Hour 3 premiere. I see flashes of the stars as they walk the red carpet, pass a crush of eager and screaming fans. The scene is immediately exhilarating and infectious. Wow, I can't believe it... a red carpet event on my first day in Hollywood! The driver warns us to stay seated and within the van and he threatens to leave anyone who doesn't comply. It took all my restraint to stay in the van and not join the adoring crowds and to touch the red carpet. The driver continues driving us along and though my own hotel is blocks away, I feel like I've arrived.

The driver takes a left unto Cahuenga and drops me at my extended stay hotel which was closer to a motel in quality. I chose it because of discounted rate $750/week which worked well with my budget and would do until I found my apartment. The driver gets my bags and brings them into small lobby/business office with computer to one side. The desk manager checks me in then escorts me to my room but there are no elevators (gasps) and my room is on the second floor!Thankfully, the manager helps me up to the second floor with my 2 bags and a carry-on. He shows me how to access the door security devices and goes on his way.

I swing the door wide open happily and I am pleased with what I find. The room is a good size with a well made queen-size bed that was comfortable (important for a bad back) and had clean linens on it. There was a wall-mounted TV and a small fridge and, most importantly,the bathroom was spotless. The only problem was that the view from the windows was the view of the windows of the apartment building next door (some of those tenants really should buy curtains). I detect a slight scent of cigarette smoke which dissipated when I turned on the a/c. I ranked the room 3 out of 5 but it's decent for the price and its locale in downtown Hollywood.
I don't have time to settle in or unpack because I'm headed back to Hollywood Blvd. for the Rush Hour 3 premiere.

I do a quick change and I hurry back to Graumann's Chinese Theater. Squeeze through the crowd and a few limos but, unfortunately, I can't get by the numerous metal barriers and security that surround the red carpet. I am all smiles and hopefulness as I speak to two of the events security people. I say "It's my first day in L.A. and I just love Chris and Jackie (yes, I'm on first name basis with " Can you ,please, just let me in? They say the theater has let in everyone for the screening already, sorry. It was worth a shot.

Few studio-exec. types and minor stars walk into the premiere, as I stand at the sidelines. Maybe I am naive but I think how terrible it is to be an "outsider" in this industry. Still, not deterred, I pray "God, the next movie premiere or event I attend, if it be your will, I will attend as an insider". Still, I love watching people and I used my sideline time to learn something about what it takes to pull off such an event like this. I watch how the event planners orchestrate the event from the big things (handling talent on the red carpet) to the little things (setting up and breaking down). I watched as they talked on walkie-talkies as they ushered in last minute industry people or reigned in way-ward photogs. Soon the fans and photographers faded away and the events crew began removing the barricades, lights, cameras and equipment. They even removed the red carpet!They simply just removed the tape and rolled the rug up ... Just like that... all the glitz and glamour is all gone. My heart sinks a little bit... I never realized it before but Hollywood is a lot of smoke and mirrors. I felt a bit like Dorothy pulling back the curtain and finding out who the wizard really is.

I try to keep my spirits up as I drift away to see the other sites. It's getting a bit dusk and cooler, thankfully, I'm in my favorite jacket. I walk further down Hollywood Blvd. noting the names on the stars in the pavement as I walk by. Look... there's even Rin Tin Tin. I pass what I know is a man in a dress and heels with a six o'clock shadow. I walk further along and I run into some strangely dressed or costumed people either performing for small groups of tourists or standing for pictures for a $2 fee. The locals explain that this is a regular thing but the one dressed as a winged demon with glowing yellow contact lenses is really creeping me out. Who would want to make a living dressed as a demon all day? I avoid him like the plague and I cross the street.

On the other side of the street, I stroll by the Disney's El Capitan Theater with it's marquee in lights reminiscent of Time Square in New York City. My stomach growls and I realize that I am starving. I spy a Pinkberry's and duck into it for some yogurt. This is my first time in Pinkberry's and it's definitely an experience (are they only on the west coast?). I am not an adventurous eater, so I avoid the wild array of weird flavor choices (green tea yogurt anyone?) and get strawberry with chocolate sprinkles and granola.

As I resume my stroll, I stumble unto some of the most tragic-looking homeless and addicted street people I have ever seen in my entire life! This is a strong statement, as I worked as a medical doctor in the poorest area of Washington, D.C. for years. I have also been to large metropolitan cities like New York City and had not seen homeless and street people in as bad a shape as this. I realize that I wasn't "starving" when I bought the yogurt and an incredible sadness fills me. I give them what I little I could and quietly prayed and asked the Lord to really bless them.

I am a few blocks from my hotel when I encounter a group of self-confessed male alcoholics in their 30's and 40's. They said that they were homeless and they were huddling together to stay warm, as the temperature had dropped over 20 degrees. One of them greets me very politely and asks me for some money. I really don't have any more cash but I speak to him about how much God loves him. I tell him to pray, in Jesus' name, for help. He told me, with a very serious face, that he prays to Jesus every single day and still he can't stop drinking. I have no ready answer for him but I try to be encouraging. I try to remember a Bible verse that would be of help but my mind is blank. Instead, I tell him about my own struggles and how my faith has helped me overcome.

Suddenly, someone bumps into me from behind! Luckily, it was just someone who innocently brushed into me as they walked by but I realize that I am on a street at 9:30 p.m., by myself, in one of the largest cities in the world, talking to a group of strange men. Another man in the group gets a little loud and belligerent and I know it is time for me to go. I promise the man that I will pray for him and quickly head back to my hotel.

I get back to my hotel, I get on my knees by the bed and I immediately start praying. Soon, tears are in my eyes and I find that I am weeping almost hysterically. I realize I was crying for the man I met on the street and for myself, as we struggle through afflictions. I was crying for the film industry, which thrives amidst such extremes from chauffeured cars and red carpet finery to object poverty no more than a few blocks apart. I was crying for a city that attracts so many to it and seems so unable to help them. As I end my tearful prayers, I ask God, "please, do not forget Los Angeles, the City of Angels". Please, pray for us.